Song of the Day, September 7: William Taylor by the Rails

RailsWmTaylorFor their debut album, Fair Warning, Kami Thompson and James Walbourne wrote a great set of electric folk tracks. They also cast back to their roots, finding two great traditional songs to add to the mix. One of those selections, William Taylor is among the finest moments on the disc.

It’s an old folk song [Roud 158], collected in 1908 by Percy Grainger from the singing of Joseph Taylor. Dozens of folk luminaries — including June Tabor, Martin Carthy, and Hedy West — have recorded fine versions. William Taylor contains some of the most common tropes in British folk — the seafaring lover, infidelity, cross-dressing, and revenge. Unlike many songs with these themes, this one finds the maiden who dressed in man’s apparel coming out the clear winner in the end, and on her own terms.

This rich history makes it a perfect selection for the Rails to use as their tribute. They also make it very much their own. Thompson and Walbourne trade vocals and harmonize capturing the flow of the story with their smart choices. The band romp along behind them, reminding us that this is very much a modern electric folk outfit. The whole package is a perfect delight.

Enjoy this great song today, both in its fine album version and this great live performance.

About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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